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February 8, 2023updated 09 Mar 2023 9:51am

Microsoft unveils ChatGPT-powered browser and Bing search engine

Microsoft has created a new version of the OpenAI large language model called Prometheus that is specifically designed for search.

By Ryan Morrison

Microsoft has revealed new versions of its Bing search engine and Edge browser that employ the same AI technology behind the popular OpenAI chatbot ChatGPT. The company says it has created a more advanced version of the OpenAI model called Prometheus, dubbing it a “copilot for the web”. This will include a browser chat and compose function that could be used to analyse a report, compare findings to other companies and format the response into a table.

The new version of Bing is available to a small number of users at the moment but will rollout worldwide in the coming weeks (Photo: Microsoft)
The new version of Bing is available to a small number of users at the moment but will roll out worldwide in the coming weeks. (Photo courtesy of Microsoft)

Users will be able to search the web and interact with Bing or the Edge browser using natural language conversations in the same way ChatGPT works. They will get similar levels of responses but with the addition of links and a greater chance that the content is accurate as it can be verified against the link.

Microsoft has been a backer of OpenAI since 2019, when it invested $1bn in the company. The success of ChatGPT, which launched in November, has highlighted a large number of potential business and consumer use cases for generative AI, leading MSFT to up its stake in OpenAI with a new multi-billion dollar investment. It has already announced ChatGPT will be integrated into its Teams collaboration software, while a suite of OpenAI tools has been made available to users of the company’s Azure cloud platform.

Giving Bing an AI-powered upgrade is an attempt to challenge Google’s domination of the search market. Late on Monday Google announced its own chatbot, Bard, which is currently in testing phase but is being launched to compete with ChatGPT.

ChatGPT brings greater automation to Bing

The new version of Bing puts AI to use in other areas too, and Microsoft automation will help improve the overall user experience, including by more quickly exposing simple things like sports scores, stock prices and weather, along with a sidebar that provides comprehensive answers to the query.

The chat experience is designed for more complex searches and could be used to plan a detailed trip itinerary, researching a product or solving a problem. Unlike ChatGPT each response will come with links to back-up the answer given.

While it does use the technology behind ChatGPT and its parent large language model GPT-3.5, Microsoft says it employs an entirely new, next-generation OpenAI language model that is more powerful than GPT-3.5 and trained specifically for search.

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Known as the Prometheus model, it builds on the latest OpenAI model to better leverage its power through a new set of techniques that improves the accuracy of the results, speed of the results and ensures safe responses.

This AI model has not just been used in chat, but is part of the core search algorithm, the Bing search ranking engine which led to the “largest jump in relevance in two decades” so that even basic queries return more targeted results, the companies claim.

AI is the future of software – Microsoft CEO

“AI will fundamentally change every software category, starting with the largest category of all – search,” Satya Nadella, chairman and CEO of Microsoft told reporters.

The AI-driven change includes an entirely new Microsoft Edge browser experience that includes AI capabilities and a new look. This includes two new features – chat and compose – that are built into the sidebar and built on the ChatGPT-like technology.

This includes the ability to feed in a lengthy financial report and get key takeaways, then use the chat function to ask for comparisons to a competing company’s financials and have it all put in a table. It also allows users to compose LinkedIn posts from a few prompts and have it generated the text, or update the tone, format and length of the post you are writing to match the type of network you are posting to, including adapting a long LinkedIn post into a shorter tweet.

In a blog post on the new release Microsoft said it has been working with OpenAI to safeguard against harmful content, including working to address issues around misinformation, content blocking, data safety and preventing the promotion of harmful or discriminatory content from being generated by the AI. “We will continue to apply the full strength of our responsible AI ecosystem – including researchers, engineers and policy experts – to develop new approaches to mitigate risk,” said corporate VP Yusuf Mehdi.

Rodrigo Liang, co-founder and CEO of SambaNova Systems, the Softbank-backed AI unicorn that is working on its own integrated hardware-software-based Large Language Model platform said it is no surprise both Google and Microsoft are racing to release their own Generative AI solutions. “We’re witnessing the fastest industrial revolution in history, and the current developments in AI are going to be as impactful as the GUI in the 1980s and the internet in the 1990s.”

“While Google and Microsoft have their eyes on the consumer market, and especially search, we mustn’t forget the enterprise software market which is ripe for transformation. The most successful enterprises are those which are already working on generative AI solutions. Foundation models based on generative AI will revolutionise these businesses.”

Read more: Bard: Google reveals generative AI chatbot to take on ChatGPT

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